When Marvin Menke, the founder of Hemel, first reached out to me by email, he sent me a PDF document presenting his brand and the collection that he was about to launch on Kickstarter. I rarely saw online brochures with such a beautiful design, especially coming from a young brand — after all, Marvin is a graphic designer and his profession left his mark on Hemel. The watches too, the HM Series Collection, were looking interesting, good-old classic military watches with a touch of lively colours.
When Hemel was launched on Kickstarter, I was first worried that it will not reach its initial goal, but it seems that I was not the only one who liked the look of these watches and the project got fully funded in the end. The brochure was nice, the Kickstarter campaign page looked great, but now that production models are out, Marvin invited me to test the Hemel 24 for a review.
The watch arrived in a modern-looking bright orange cardboard box, with the Hemel logo in white, nothing fancy, the packaging serves well its purpose of getting the watch to the customer in pristine conditions. When I first strapped on the Hemel 24, it was love at first sight. The size was perfect (40 mm) and I felt the bead blasted finish of the case inviting to be caressed — don’t worry my lady was there, she knows, and actually she liked the look of the watch very much. The crown is screw-down for better water resistance (up to 100 meters), the Hemel 24 is well equipped to survive another Invasion of Normandy or a vacation on a warmer beach.
Another feature that came as a surprise as it was not visible in the pictures, was the domed sapphire crystal covering a slightly domed dial. The two domes together are creating a fantastic eye-candy, giving a lot of depth to the dial, and breathing life into the lume-coated numerals and hands. I can’t look at the orange second hand, smoothly doing its job over the black dial, without smiling. Together with the bright orange keeper on the black nylon strap, the orange second-hand takes away from the bellicose allure of the Hemel 24, adding civilian casualness to the cocktail.
I really like the way the tiny Hemel logo is applied in stainless steel on the black dial, shining or disappearing depending on the angle the light would hit it. It could have been slightly bigger, but this is again, a feature that you will have to see with your own eyes, photos can’t reproduce the effect.
The lume coating on the numerals and the hands work very well, just with a normal wear, it would get charged enough to offer reliable time reading when I would enter a dark environment.
The black nylon Zulu strap looks great and I appreciate the attention given to the bead blasted buckle that bears the Hemel signature, but the metal grommets combined with the thickness of the strap make it rather rough, which is probably great for a military watch, but I wish it would have come with something softer.
The screw-down case back has the same bead blasted finish as the rest of the case and it is equipped with a flat sapphire crystal window on the Miyota 9015 automatic movement. Unfortunately, this is a missed opportunity, in my opinion. All that beautiful real estate offered by the rotor is not exploited to make something interesting. I already said this, and I will keep saying: a see-through back should go hand in hand with a decorated movement.
The Hemel 24 was a blast wearing, photographing and reviewing! It is a fantastic debut piece and I can’t wait to see what will come next for/from Hemel and Marvin Menke. As for the Hemel 24, at $399 US, it is a decent value, and you can order it directly from www.hemelwatches.com
Reference HM1 Series
Movement: Miyota 9015 (automatic & manual wind, hacking second hand, 28,800 bph, 24 jewels, 42-hour power reserve, brass retainer)
Case: 316L Stainless Steel, polished, or bead blasted
Case Width: 40 mm (42 mm w/crown)
Case Thickness: 13 mm (w/domed crystal)
Lug Width: 20 mm
Lug to Lug: 48 mm
Caseback: Screw-down, exhibition
Dial: Domed, matte black w/Superluminova C3
Front Crystal: Domed sapphire
Back crystal: Flat sapphire
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Crown: Signed, screw down
Straps: Heavy-duty, two-piece, nylon with metal grommets and signed buckle. Stealth Black.